Good news! Today I received our official letter from the Internal Revenue Service, granting Blessing Hands 501 (c) (3) status with an advanced ruling date of June 30, 2010. That means that everyone who has given to Blessing Hands can now retroactively count it as a tax deduction. It also means that we are officially a public charity with exemption from income taxes. It came really quick. I was expecting a 120-day wait. We must have done everything right with great advice. My thanks goes to accountant Jonathan Stiles, Cindy and Matt Cutts who let me in on their nonprofit advice, and especially to Founding Family Foundation that believed in Blessing Hands before the government ever did.
I am leaving for Yangshuo China in six days. I am part of a Sister Cities Tour that is conducting an eyeglass clinic with Blessing Hands' support. We are paying for part of the cost for eyeglasses for the Blessing Hands students and many teachers in Yangshuo. I will get to meet each student personally when they come for their eye exam. Nina Ottinger from Founding Family Foundation is going with us and will conduct physicals for each child. She is a pediatric nurse among other things. Mostly she likes to be Mom to her adopted Chinese daughter Sarah Helena. Cindy Cutts, my daughter-in-law, and her mother Janice Weeks are also going. Janice, a third grade teacher, is going to take pictures of all the children to encourage sponsors to select children and pen pals to be matched.
Anna Liu, the Blessing Hands administrator from Qinzhou, will bring her family and join us in Yangshuo for the eye clinic. Her parents direct a medical clinic that was flooded from a typhoon just last week. Yangshuo also had two towns flooded, but no lives were lost. Malan Cai, the administrator in Yangshuo, will be our translator and stay with us the whole trip. Tami Jaskulski from Lexington, KY is also going to be helping with the eye clinic. I expect to meet with the Chinese doctor who plans another operation on Qu Ling Zhu to correct the facial deformity cause by the removed tumor. I also hope to see many of my former ESL students who have returned to China.
Another piece of good news is the free offer of Patti Cormican, a social worker with Lutheran Charities, to investigate writing some grants for Blessing Hands. We hope to get money for more medical help for the children, computers for the schools, and perhaps basketball courts or playground equipment for a few schools. Now that we have our 501(c)(3) status that will be easier. There are so many needs in rural China. I would like to see some water purification projects for the remote schools be funded. Even Qinzhou No 1 Middle School, which is in a large city, has to boil their drinking water. The upper classmen get the boiled water first and some of the lower grade students go thirsty.
My final good news is that money has been coming in for the fall semester. Two vacation Bible schools have given their mission offerings to Blessing Hands this summer. With the matching funds that Founding Family Foundation has pledged Blessing Hands will receive at least $1,200 from the American Bible School children. I now have a power point presentation that I can easily send out to people willing to help us with fund raising, and we have engaged a webpage designer, John Fisher of Seek Ye First Computing. If you haven't sent your donation for the fall semester, now is the time.